We live in an age during which many people have determined that preaching about Christ is not only more important than the rest of the New Testament, but also have redefined the phrase "doctrine of Christ," (2 John 1:9) to mean only the teaching about Christ found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Let us examine the word of God together and come to an understanding of what it means to preach Christ. It is not within the scope of this article to outline every important aspect of preaching Christ. However, we will study two of them briefly.
Before we proceed any further, it is necessary to examine Paul's statement concerning his role as a preacher. In Acts 20:27, we read,
"For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."
Whenever we pick and choose what should be more important to teach people from the word of God, leaving the rest to be opinions under the guise of Romans 14, we are guilty of two abominable sins. First, we violate this passage by not preaching all truth. Peter performed his duty to preach all of God's word on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Last, we become guilty of telling people what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear, regardless if some will be offended "because of unbelief," (Hebrews 4:6), thus adding to the fire of apostasy (2 Timothy 4:2-4). This is what the prophet Isaiah wrote about when he said concerning the children of Israel attitude toward God's word,
"Which say to the seers, See, not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us," (Isaiah 30:10-11).
Preaching Christ involves preaching the whole truth about salvation. There are preachers today as well as a number of churches of Christ who fail to teach the hearer everything that he needs to understand in order to be saved from his sins. For example, Billy Graham, a Baptist minister, should be greatly admired for his ability to draw large crowds. However, he has never preached the truth about salvation. Concerning baptism, he says,
"If baptism were a requirement for salvation, we would certainly say that. But you couldn't support that knowing, for example, that the thief on the cross had no opportunity for baptism or church membership. Yet on his confession, paradise was secured," (http://www.billygraham.org) .
The Bible contradicts Graham's belief in that baptism is not required for salvation. In Acts 2:38 we read,
Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Preaching Christ involves preaching the whole truth about the church. There are many in this world, especially those who have departed from the faith, who believe and promote the idea that "one church is as good as another." This type of thinking has brought about things such as the unity-in-diversity movement and the Nashville Jubilee, which, in reality divides rather than unites.
Some brethren seem to think that we ought to preach only about Christ, not about the church. While we should preach the good news about Christ--His life, death, burial, and resurrection--that some brethren emphatically call the "core gospel," we cannot neglect the importance of preaching about His church. Much of what Christ said about the church is found in the four gospel accounts. On more than one occasion, Jesus taught people about His kingdom, the church. For example, some of the parables that Jesus used to teach the people was in reference to the church and how His followers, Christians, were to live their lives both in deed and in word. Also, Christ taught how sinners must become a part of His church (Mark 16:15-16; John 3:5).
As we have studied the scriptures, it is important that we preach the "whole counsel of God," (Acts 20:27), not just preach about Christ found in the four gospel accounts.
Even though the event took place over a week and a half ago, America and other countries around the world are still awestruck at the events of 11 September 2001, by far the worst terrorist attack that America has seen in its existence. It is now evident that well over 6,000 people lost their lives in this horrific attack.
Those 6,000 people most probably woke up on that Tuesday morning expecting nothing out of the ordinary. Some had a plane to catch, and others had work as usual at the World Trade Center despite bleak economic conditions. They most probably ate their breakfast and went to work in a manner almost no different than any other day.
Yet it had been determined by others that their lives were to end that day. They had no idea about the events about to play out in New York and Washington, D.C. Life as usual went completely wrong. What had started as a normal Tuesday ended in disaster.
What can we learn from this event? The lesson that James so clearly articulated in James 4:13-17:
Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Our lives are as a vapor, and we know not the hour or the time at which it will end. We do not know, like those 6,000 did not know, at what point we will have to go and meet our Maker. Therefore, we must urge everyone to be always prepared, having the humility of heart to recognize that although you may seem to have control in your life, everything can change in a moment. Please, heed the words of Paul in Acts 17:30-31:
"Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
Make your life right with God today. You may never have another opportunity.
Ethan R. Longhenry
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